« Escape From San Francisco | Main | Escape From San Francisco »

May 30, 2011

The Point Reyes Sand Trap

Jennifer was out for the weekend and you just can't know what that's like, or maybe you can. Maybe you do know. I dunno. But for me, it's like this...the one person that's more important to me than anyone else on the planet flies in to see me on an airplane and I get to show her my new city. This is the plan.

I have a car rented and everything but when we go to pick up the car, my driver's license has expired. And they won't rent me a car. Major bummer. This sucks in a big way. And I can't figure any way around it. So we catch a cab back into the city and we're sort of grounded, as it were.

In the morning, I let her sleep in and she sleeps in until noon, which is a record so far as I know. Nothing compared to her old man, of course. But respectable. I mean, at my age, I can practically hibernate. But noon is good for her, I think.

So we sort of play around in the city and we ride the cabs and the buses and the cable cars and we have fun. We're not suffering, mind you. We hit Ghirardeli Square, the California Academy of Science, ride the cable car, buy Timmy a new cat bed. Pick up some souvineers. But I can never figure out how to get my hands on a car. I mean, I've got an envelope with a few grand in it, so I could buy a car, but even then you have to get to the vehicle, inspect it, etc. It's just not in the cards on this trip.

She was supposed to fly back tomorrow, but she's planning this big party tomorrow and at some point this afternoon, I decided I'd send her back early and let her get home at a decent hour so she could plan her party for tomorrow. I'd initially planned to get her up at something insane like 4:00 a.m. and run her to the airport in the small hours of the morning. But I broke down and reticketed her to fly out today at a reasonable hour and we cabbed it down to the airport and I let the goons in the TSA have their way with me, the slimy bastards.Now,

Then I race to pick up my bike and ride like the wind across the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, in the city, I drive my motorcycle with no plates and I tell myself that the police don't pull me over because there's too much crime. This works for me. I don't know if it's true or not, but I swear on a stack of Bible's that I've been driving this bike with no plates as a daily driver three months and I've not been stopped once. And it's starting to piss me off. Seriously.

I mean, what's a guy got to do to get arrested in this town, anyway?

I've taken to parking in fire lanes, running red lights, stop signs...riding wheelies the wrong way down one way streets...driving on the beach, driving on pedestrian pathways and even on the beach. All of these things are blatantly illegal, but I can't get any respect.

Finally, last week, I was driving the wrong way down a one way street and I drove past a parked marked police car, and the woman in the passenger seat worked up enough energy to tap on her window, roll it down, and yell "you're going the wrong way!!!" at which point I turned off onto another one way street (still going the wrong way, of course) and disappeared.

But this is all within the city limits. Outside of the city limits, my logic falls apart. There's no rational reason that I can think of that a cop wouldn't pull over a motorcycle for driving with no plates. Everytime I find myself outside the city limits, I'm always sort of thinking..."Huh....this whole 'no plates' thing is going to get me in a heap of trouble one of these days."

And that's sort of where I find myself today. I'm rolling through Marin County, heading out toward Point Reyes, just running balls-out and I'm thinking...."Hmmm....Not only do I not have a license plate, or insurance....but my driver's license is expired also...hmmmm" So this sort of hangs in the back of my brain as I'm flying through Marin County heading for Point Reyes National Seashore.

Not like it matters. I drive like I drive. That's all that can be said about that. I don't care what the speed limit is. I can't be bothered about having plates put on the bike. Life is short. We're all going to die one day. And these laws may make sense for other people, but they certainly don't apply to me and, if you think they do, well you've got to catch me first, dig it?

So I run out to Point Reyes and this time, I take a right turn at the Tomales Bay sign and I end up way on on the northern end of the isthmus and there's a parking lot and a little footpath down through the hills down to the beach and I sit for some time thinking....as Jim would say...."Do I or Don't I". That is the question.

Finally, think...wtf? Seriously? I mean...who am I? Am I Rob Kiser or not? I'm driving my dirt bike to the beach, good sense be damned. So I start driving my Big Red Pig down this little footpath through a steep, twisting trail toward the beach. Now, if I mess up, I'll fall 20 feet down into a little creek. So I'm sort of carefully rolling down the trail as diligently as possible. I get down to the beach and immediately get stuck in the sand, which is OK because now the bike won't fall over.

I abandon the bike and start walking down the beach. I think I've been here before. I can't swear to it. I've definitely been to the parking lot before. I believe I've been to this beach before, but I can't swear to it. There are not many other people here. Probably, as far as you can see, there are 8 other people on the beach. Some group of people seems to have a campfire down south of here some distance. I start walking toward them.

I should mention that I'm wearing all of my new motorcycle gear, so I look like Robocop. I'm wearing black motorcycle jacket and pants, black gloves, and a white helmet. I didn't' take it off because that's a whole other deal. It means removing gloves and glasses and then you have a helmet to carry, so much of the time, I just leave it on. Plus, I look super bad ass walking down the beach in black with a motorcycle helmet on.

By the time I get to the family on the beach with the camp fire, they're scared out of their witts. The patriarch is deliberately and obviously sharpening his fillet knife on a whet stone. He won't make eye contact with me, but the message is clear. His two daughters are playing lacrosse on the beach. His wife is by his side. He's sharpening that knife because he doesn't have a gun and he's not so sure that the guy with the motorcycle helmet isn't some psychotic axe murderer.

"What's for dinner?" I ask.

He just looks at me. Doesn't smile. Doesn't answer. Just keeps working the knife across the face of the whet stone and he's about to cut the whet stone in two.

"Did I miss dinner?" I ask.

"We had corn," he allows.

"You had CORN for dinner." I repeat. Like, seriously?

"And beef tips," he allowed. Still with the knife.

"I'm not to proud for leftovers," I reply.

Finally, he realizes that I'm not there to butcher his family, and he lowers his guard.

"I don't care...it's no business of mine...but is it legal to have a campfire on the beach? I figured the tree-hugger's would blow a gasket."

"You have to have a permit...but if you have a permit, it's legal he allowed."

"Fair enough. Ya'll have a nice day," I offer as I wander back down the beach.

When I get back to my bike, I manage to get it out of the sand and pointed back up the beach toward the trail. It's going to be tough getting back up to the parking lot. If I fall, it's going to suck in a big way because a) it's going to hurt and b) they're going to have to use a helicopter to get my bike out of the canyon if it falls in, so I sort of grit my teeth and just start back up the trail, praying that I'll make it to the parking lot.

Somehow, I make it to the parking lot and, just beyond, I see a bunch of quail just as some Ranger Rick types are walking by and removing their Forest Ranger hats. Knocking off for the day.

"What are those birds," I shout to them.


"I can see that. Why sort of quail?" I clarify.

"Gambel Quail," he replies.

"I don't think so," I reply. "When I came into the park today, I saw an animal cross the road. Are there bobcat here?"


"I think that's what I saw. A huge bobcat."

He looks at me and nods. I leave the park on the bike, glad to be off the beach, and away from the Ranger Rick types. Needless to say, the tree-huggers would blow a gasket if they had any idea that I was driving my bike on the beach.

So, I blow by these two and head out but as I start to leave Point Reyes National Seashore, don't you know that there's not one but two Forest Rangers with their lights going waiting for me. I'm like...."Oh man this sucks. This sucks donkey balls." Like, I'm probably going to jail. As I watch, right before, me, another Ranger Rick pulls up. They're in marked vehicles with all of the bubblegum machines going. All lights are rolling as I pull up to the T - intersection in the park.

Slowly, I begin to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I've been driving my motorcycle down a protected marine sanctuary within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I've driven my bike down a footpath where no motor vehicles are allowed. I drove down the beach. Then back up the trail. Then talked to a couple of Ranger Rick types like it was all no big deal. Like I owned the place.

All of this with no license plates. No driver's license. No insurance. And now, I'm going to jail. For realz.

My heart sinks. How could I be so stupid. Seriously? What is wrong with me that I think that the laws do not apply to me? Do I feel compelled to go to jail.

One of the Ranger Rick types jumps out of a vehicle with the flashing blue lights and waves for me to drive toward him. Slowly, I comply and roll forward, toward my own private hell. At a minimum, I'm going to spend the night in jail. Bail will be tricky since I'm in California, I figure.

But then, I realize that he's actually waving for me to keep going. And, I have no clue why they were all there with their bubblegum machines going, but they didn't stop me.

I drive down the road a bit and now I see that I'm following another officer. This time, it's a county sheriff vehicle. Probably they want to get me into town so that they can arrest me. I don't dare pass him of course, and he drives the speed limit through Inverness. I think about cutting off and hiding in someone's yard. But there's no way out. There's only one way off this peninsula. I'm not sure where they're going to take me down, but I have an idea they're just trying to get me off the peninsula so that I can't escape on the dirt bike. They'll take me down in town where I can't get away and I'll be boxed in real good like.

But instead, we go through town and he keeps going and I cut down Bear Valley and just open that throttle up and lay down on the seat and for whatever reason, they never pulled me over. And I'm left thinking...what has a guy got to do to get arrested around here, anyway?

Map of the Point Reyes National Seashore

Above: Driving down Pierce Point Road toward McClures beach after descending the Inverness Ridge in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Above: Pierce Point Ranch near McClures beach.

Above: View from McClures beach looking south down the coast.

Above: View from McClures beach looking south down the coast.

Above: View from McClures beach looking north up the coast.

Above: A point Just south of McClures beach. I walked through a crevice in the rocks to get here. I believe this the area known as Elephant Rock.

Above: Southern end of McClures beach looking north.

Above: My helmet on McClures beach.

Above: Me on McClures beach with the rear tire dug in nearly up to the chain and rear sprocket. For the record, the sand on the beaches in northern California is notoriously difficult to drive on. It's too soft and doesn't pack down well. They should have signs up on the trailhead that says "Beach sand not suitable for motorcycles" or words to that effect.

Above: Walker Creek flows into the Tomales Bay near the Pierce Point ranch. The Tomales Bay follows the San Andreas Fault.

Above: Looking southeast across the Tomales Bay from a vantage point near the Pierce Point ranch. The far side of Tomales Bay is the Bolinas Ridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Above: Looking southeast across the Tomales Bay from a vantage point near the Pierce Point ranch. The far side of Tomales Bay is the Bolinas Ridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 30, 2011 at 11:18 PM


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)